Can a Libertarian Win in Georgia?

Posted by Paul Murphy on January 26, 2017

If Georgia congressman Tom Price is confirmed by the Senate to become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Trump presidential administration, then a special congressional election will take place in Georgia. According to Georgia state law, the governor, currently Nathan Deal, must call for a special election to occur 30 days after the vacancy. With a special election, there are no partisan primaries and all candidates are on the ballot. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, then a runoff election will be held for the candidates who finished in first and second place. Libertarian political strategist John Vaught LaBeaume, a writer for Reason.com, recently noted how a strong, mainstream Libertarian candidate could win over constituents in Price’s congressional district if the candidate were to make it into the runoff election challenging a Republican or Democratic candidate.

Due to the archaic systems of winner-take-all voting and single member districts that are used nearly all over the country, third party or independent candidates oftentimes lose with or without runoffs. That is where innovative reforms like ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, is needed to avoid spoilers and offer more political choices during elections. Ranked choice voting allows the voter to rank candidates in order of preference. The candidate with the least number of first choices is eliminated. Voters who ranked a losing candidate as their top choice instantly have their vote count for their next choice. This process continues until one candidate has a majority. Allowing voters to rank multiple candidates encourages campaigns that focus on ideas and policies. Plus, voters are no longer worried that voting for their favorite candidate will create a spoiler effect and help the candidate they like the least win. Cities across the country have turned to ranked choice voting as a way to address the spoiler effect, eliminate costly runoffs, and give military and overseas voters an opportunity to participate fully.  As Georgia voters wait to see if the 6th Congressional District becomes vacant, this is a great opportunity to talk about how to give all voters a stronger voice and better choices.

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